The other day, we had multiple storm reports in our area, which I heard on the radio. I muttered, “God, I hope it doesn’t get worse, that’s the last thing we need,” and later on, I noticed my daughter’s entire demeanor seemed off and she seemed afraid.
I immediately thought back to what had slipped out of my mouth earlier in the day. Unfortunately, this is not the first time I have expressed my fears and unintentionally scared the hell out of my daughter. I promptly explained why I had said what I said, while reminding her that we were safe. That said, it got me thinking about how we as parents make our kids paranoid and how we can prevent it.
Here are some things I found.
1. Be mindful that your kids are always listening.
Even when you think they aren’t listening, they are. Your kids are almost always listening, even if they aren’t actively trying. So, when you are saying fearful or catastrophizing things, your kids hear that.
2. When instructing -instruct them for safety, and avoid any inkling of tragedy.
If you are trying to avoid your child making a mistake that could harm them, be mindful of how you instruct. Do not allow fear to take hold and cause you to sound like you are terrified. Remain calm and instruct your kids accordingly.
3. Understand that excessive fear can be dangerous in its way.
Excessive fear can lead to anxiety, which is not beneficial to your kids at all. Yes, healthy fear is good, but fear can go down an excessive road, so keep that in mind.
4. Understand, we cannot control it all.
No matter how much you may want to, you simply cannot control everything. There will be things beyond your control, so pick your battles wisely.
5. Keep your fears in perspective.
Living in the age of technology can add a layer of convenience, but it also means that the most sensationalized news is always on our faces. Take one glance at your timeline on social media, and you will probably catch a glimpse of every tragedy that has happened in the past 24 hours. This can make us lose perspective on how much of a threat tragedies like those are to us and can leave us sitting in a constant space of fear. Be aware of how that impacts you and if you need to, limit yourself.
6. When you express fear, express it with an understanding of what you are trying to avoid.
If you are expressing fear to your child, do it in a levelheaded way. Do not catastrophize or use words that can make them feel like they are in danger. Explain your fear in a way that helps them to understand without terrifying them.